Is Twitter ditching the @’s and #’s?

Twitter is in trouble, you guys. Serious trouble.

Not as many people are joining the social media service and, worse still, a lot of people are trying it and deciding it’s not for them. The numbers are so alarming, Twitter is even considering abandoning some of the trademark pieces of its language.

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This news comes from a Business Insider report that said Twitter is considering getting rid of the @ symbol (and others) in an effort to simplify the site’s user experience.

But at Twitter, @ is at the core of a crucial debate within the company about how to get Twitter's user-base growing again. Some people ? including CEO Dick Costolo ? think the shorthand codes used on Twitter may be deterring new users from joining the site. Unless you already know what they mean, terms like @, #, RT, MT and #FF are meaningless.

They look like computer code, and if there's one thing that ordinary users hate, it's code. Ordinary users are Twitter's future: the millions of people Twitter needs to join and stick with the company in order to get meaningful growth in the years to come.

Admittedly, losing some of those symbols would make Twitter easier to understand and save users valuable characters in a medium that is limited to 140 of them.

But there’s something unsettling about a world where Twitter is no longer associated with #’s and @’s. Current users signed up for that Twitter, and they like that some tweets are best punctuated by a strong hashtag. Or even 2 minutes of them.

Twitter needs to tread carefully. On the one hand, eliminating their convoluted language could bring in millions of new users no longer afraid of what all those symbols mean. But on the other hand, they could alienate all the people who have fallen in love with the quirky symbols that have made Twitter into what it is today.